Slavisa finally brings stability; Fulham succeed

Fulham finished the 2016-17 (regular) season with a mood not felt nor heard since “Call Me Maybe” was a hit and not a punchline: a success.

Statistically, how did Fulham manage to buck this nearly 5-year trend of performances that ranged from historically terrible, to surprisingly good, to maddeningly inconsistent?

The answer lies with stability.

Managers not sticking with the same lineup can be a double edged sword. Sometimes it shows the manager is constantly tinkering to find which position players will succeed the most. Other times it can show a manager simply can’t settle on who his best players are, and appears to be second-guessing himself.

Injuries and suspensions play a role too, but the last few seasons have been anything but stable.

Last season, Fulham started 7 different CBs. Six had 8 or more starts. Four different RBs and LBs started; 5 of 7 made double digit or more starts.

In 2014-15, Fulham started 5 different CBs, 6 different RBs, and 5 different LBs.

In 2016-17, Fulham started 8 different defensemen. Period.

Also in 2016-17, Fulham started 13 different midfielders. Last season it was 17; 22 different midfielders started in 2014-15.

Most of this can be attributed to having the same manager for more than 6 months.

Last season Fulham put up the following numbers under just Slavisa:

Corsi/TSR Shots on target share Shooting % For Save % PDO DZ Shots For % DZ Shots Against %
0.484 0.489 28.6% 66.4% 0.949 32% 41%

These aren’t great, but also not terrible. As written before, Fulham’s crazy shooting percentage under Kit was going to regress and regress it did.

This season the numbers are far better across the board:

Corsi/TSR Shots on target share Shooting % For Save % PDO DZ Shots For % DZ Shots Against %
0.577 0.54 36.7% 71.4% 1.081 41% 41%

After years in the wilderness, it’s amazing how simple an equation of “better players + good manager = good, stable team” can be.